Surrounded by lush flowers and bursts of color, the music video for “Religion” is a first for emerging indie songwriter and cartoonist Avital Shtapura.
Avital on set at the Floral Escape
The eclectic video premiered on his YouTube channel – which normally houses his 2D and 3D animations – to accompany the release of his third music album, ‘Safe.’ The video is also a celebration of his heritage; viewers can see Avital incorporate Hopak, a style of folk dance pioneered by his father’s tribe, the Zaporozhian Cossacks of Ukraine, and some verses are sung in Polish to honor his mother’s Ukrainian-Polish roots.
“I’d never paid money to see my song come to life on a set before – and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful set!” explained an enthused Avital Shtapura. The video was filmed in The Floral Escape in Paramus, an interactive pop-up flower exhibit which opened its doors in April of 2021. The elaborate photo-op began as a seasonal display, but has since become a year-round installation at Westfield Garden State Plaza.
Avital Shtapura, now 22, was born in Israel to Ukrainian parents. After immigrating to the U.S., he was raised in Bensonhurst and Fair Lawn, and now lives in a small town near Montville, New Jersey. As a part of the trans and autistic community, he is proud to have over a decade’s worth of presence online. Since he was nine years old, he has posted his animated cartoons and songs on the internet.
The release was praised by British pop artist Scott Magnus. “The song itself is catchy and feel-good, and this video sees Avital bursting with energy, with captivating dance moves which compliment the song’s funky rhythms. This all takes place against a backdrop of vibrant, slightly absurd floral scenes which convey the feeling of being on a beautiful fantasy planet.”
Avital attempts a somersault
How did the song itself come about? “The idea for the song came, quite hilariously, when ‘Losing My Religion’ by R.E.M. kept getting stuck in my head,” recalls Avital, with a laugh. “Before I knew it, I had this whole new song in front of me. I couldn’t help but see it through to the end, all because of that first little melody I kept humming.”
The ‘Safe’ album is available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube Music – and Avital can’t wait to get to work on his next music video.
“It was just such a joy to see my music come to life in this way! I’m so happy that we had this fun approach to it, and I had so much freedom to do anything I pleased! I feel like I approached so many different parts of myself – romantic, joyous, childlike – all while celebrating life.”
To watch ‘Religion’ by Avital Shtapura, please visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNLTBEzSK5U.